What Colton Told Pastor Todd Burpo About Angels

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Heaven Is For Real" by Todd Burpo. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What does Colton tell his father, Pastor Todd Burpo, about his trip to Heaven? Who did Colton meet while in Heaven? Why doesn’t Pastor Todd think his son is making it all up?

In Heaven Is for Real, young Colton tells his father, Pastor Todd Burpo, about his experiences in Heaven. Colton claims to have met his grandfather, “Pop” and his unborn sister who had passed away in the womb. Todd hadn’t told Colton about either of these relatives.

Continue on to learn what Colton told Pastor Todd Burpo about his meetings in Heaven.

Colton Reveals His Heavenly Experience to Pastor Todd Burpo

In the months and years following Colton’s initial revelations about his trip to heaven, the young boy slowly revealed more information about his experience.

Colton Describes Meeting “Pop”

In August 2003, Colton and pastor Todd Burpo were on a road trip to a nearby town when Colton suddenly asked whether Todd had a grandfather named “Pop.” Pastor Todd Burpo replied that he did—Pop had been his maternal grandfather. He’d passed away in a car accident when Todd was a small child.

Colton responded by saying that Pop was very nice. This struck Todd as unusual: How did Colton know that Pop was nice? Why was he speaking as if he knew him, when Pop had died decades before Colton’s birth? Pastor Todd Burpo quickly concluded that Colton must have met Pop while in heaven and asked his son whether this was the case. Colton responded that it was, and that while speaking to Pop, he’d learned that Todd and Pop had been close—which was true.

Pastor Todd Burpo was blown away by this latest revelation, which seemed to confirm that we’re reunited with our late relatives in the afterlife. He wanted to assess whether Colton’s claim was true or not, so he asked Colton what Pop had looked like. Colton was evasive, only stating that Pop had large wings and was wearing white with a blue “stripe” across his body (which, again, Todd presumed to be a sash).

What Did Pop Look Like?

Some months after Colton first mentioned seeing Pop, Todd once again contemplated what Pop had looked like in heaven. Had Pop been old—as Todd remembered him—or his younger self? Todd decided to approach Colton to find out the answer to this question. Colton responded that Pop had been his younger self because nobody was old in heaven. 

Interestingly, when shown a picture of Pop as an older man, Colton didn’t recognize him. However, when shown a photo of Pop as a younger man, he recognized him immediately. Todd saw this as proof that Colton must have met the “younger” Pop.

Colton Describes Todd Becoming a Pastor

The day after Colton revealed that he met Pop, Todd’s mother visited the family. After hearing about Colton’s most recent revelations, she asked her grandson whether Jesus had mentioned how Todd became a pastor. Colton responded that Jesus had: He’d described reaching out to Todd and telling him that it was his purpose to become a pastor. When Todd had agreed, Jesus had been thrilled. 

Todd was astounded: The event that Colton was describing had happened, and Todd remembered it in detail—although he’d never told Colton about it. When he was 13 years old, he’d attended a youth camp and listened to a pastor speak about how God calls people to do his work. The pastor had mentioned that God could call kids, too—and at that moment, Todd had felt someone or something telling him that he should be a pastor. He’d known in his heart that this was God or Jesus calling him, and Colton had just confirmed that. 

Colton Describes Meeting His Late Sister

One evening in October 2003, Colton stated out of the blue that he had two sisters: Cassie, and another. At first, Colton’s parents thought he might be confused: Perhaps he’d started to see his cousin, Traci, as a sister-like figure? However, Colton dismissed this notion. He insisted that he had a second sister—one who’d died in the womb.

The Burpos were shocked because Colton was right: Sonja had suffered a miscarriage before Colton’s birth. However, they’d never mentioned this to Colton. When they asked him who’d told him about it, he replied that his late sister herself had: He’d met her in heaven.

When pressed for details, Colton revealed that a young girl had run up to him while he was in heaven and started hugging him. She’d said she was his sister and that God himself had adopted her. Todd and Sonja asked what the little girl’s name was. Colton replied that she didn’t have one, since she’d died before her parents had named her. This was true: The Burpos hadn’t even found out the baby’s sex before she’d passed away, let alone had the chance to name her. 

Until this point, both Todd and Sonja had struggled with the grief of losing their unborn child. However, now, they felt reassured. Thanks to Colton, they knew that one day, they’d reunite with their daughter in heaven.

Colton Tells His Babysitter About His Second Sister

Around two years after Colton first spoke of his late sister, he brought her up again—this time, to his babysitter, Ali. Ali told Todd and Sonja that Colton had spent a lot of their evening together crying and saying that he missed his dead sister. In the process, he’d told Ali all about his trip to heaven.

Subsequently, Ali revealed to Todd and Sonja that not only did she believe Colton’s story, but hearing him speak of heaven and his late sister had strengthened her Christian faith. Whenever she had doubts about God, she remembered how sincere Colton was when he talked about his experiences, and knew that the Christian path was the true one.

What Colton Told Pastor Todd Burpo About Angels

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Todd Burpo's "Heaven Is For Real" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Heaven Is For Real summary:

  • Why 4-year-old Colton Burpo believed he had visited Heaven
  • What Burpo saw during his time in Heaven, including proof it was real
  • How the experience strengthened the faith of the Burpo family

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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